- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2005

Wanniski and stagflation

In his Wednesday Commentary column, “A supply-sider’s legacy,” Bruce Bartlett praised Jude Wanniski for believing it “a good idea to cut taxes even in the midst of massive budget deficits and double digit inflation.”

Mr. Bartlett suggested this extremely unconservative policy ended the stagflation of the 1970s.

Actually, that stagflation was caused by the Arab oil boycotts that followed the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Republicans do not want to acknowledge this because they do not want to admit that foreigners have considerable control over the U.S. economy and because they do not want to reduce their dependence on automobile transportation.

The world price of oil declined after 1981 because price fixing by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries became unsustainable. The present increase in the price of oil is caused by demand-pull inflation. The price will continue to rise.

If the price of oil had remained high in the 1980s, President Reagan’s deficits would have lead to an inflationary depression. President Bush’s deficits will have that effect.


Wilmington, Del.

Afghan-Colombian cooperation

The counterdrug partnership envisioned in your Aug. 31 editorial “The Colombian-Afghan alliance” between the Colombian national police and Afghan counternarcotics authorities is a just-in-time response to a dilemma of significant proportions. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which, incidentally, brokered the first meeting between leaders of counternarcotics operations in Colombia and Afghanistan, is releasing details from its 2005 Afghan Opium Survey to Congress this week, and the news is mixed.

This year, opium cultivation is down by 21 percent, but good growing conditions in Afghanistan during the 2004-05 season triggered a high yield, and a production figure (4,519 tons of opium) roughly equivalent to last year’s output (4,630 tons). Afghanistan continues to supply 87 percent of the world’s heroin. The decrease in cultivation is a positive sign, an indication that President Hamid Karzai was able to persuade one out of five poppy farmers who grew opium last year to comply with the ban on poppy cultivation in 2005. Nevertheless, high production for the fourth year in a row also speaks to an urgent need for effective, tailored assistance to Afghanistan from the international community.

The initiative advanced by Rep. Henry J. Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, pairs the newly formed Afghan counternarcotics police with some of the most experienced and effective drug fighters in the world. The Colombian National Police have earned their credentials in a long, hard-fought campaign to eliminate a violent and deeply rooted drug culture.

The result, as documented by the U.S. government, has been a 60 percent reduction in Colombian heroin. Factor in a 17 percent reduction in the wholesale purity of heroin bound for the United States and increasing prices, a sign of strong export control, and two things are clear: The supply of Colombian heroin is diminishing, and so is the number of children dying from drug-related causes. Now that cultivation in Afghanistan is decreasing and, hopefully, opium output also will decline soon, both countries can benefit from programs that offer mutual reinforcement.

Colombia’scounterdrug strategies are diverse and include massive eradication, but striking clandestine labs and targeting drug kingpins are tactical staples. The skills acquired in these last two areas should be of particular value to counternarcotics forces in Afghanistan.

This year, manual eradication in Afghanistan has had mixed results, but as more farmers choose to forgo drug cultivation, that restraint, combined with eradication, may well trigger a large-scale humanitarian disaster unless farmers are offered assistance. In Afghanistan, drug revenues are equivalent to 57 percent of the gross domestic product, and farming communities are between the proverbial rock and hard place: Opium sells for about $100 for 2.2 pounds, while wheat sells for less than one-tenth that amount.

As the editorial states, “Neither Kabul nor coalition troops can afford to alienate the ordinary Afghan people, upon whom stability and counterterror efforts depend,” and that is correct. Any plan that targets the farmer, the weakest link in the drug production chain, could easily backfire, rendering hungry, discontented farming communities even poorer and turning them into havens for insurgents.

As evidenced in the UNODC Afghan Opium Survey 2005, there is another fact we cannot afford to ignore: In every region where opium cultivation fell significantly, robust alternative development programs were at work. These programs must be strengthened.

Counternarcotics efforts also must be supplemented by strategies designed to end corruption in Afghanistan. It is no secret that provinces where poppy cultivation is high are frequently governed by officials who still have ties to the heroin industry. UNODC has called for the removal of these corrupt leaders. Given the elections in Afghanistan tomorrow, the need to guarantee honest, clean leadership in the new government is especially urgent.

Afghanistan needs help to overcome the nation’s addiction to a drug economy. Europe is the final destination for more than two-thirds of the heroin coming out of Afghanistan, and greater involvement on its part is welcome and needed. The willingness of one nation, such as Colombia, to step forward with concrete, customized support based on extensive counternarcotics experience, ought to be a powerful invitation to other member states to do the same by contributing other forms of expert assistance.


Executive director

United Nations Office

on Drugs and Crime


The Katrina debate

Your Thursday editorial “The post-Katrina presidency” called for a “top-to-bottom review of the nation’s homeland-security and disaster-preparedness capabilities.” I suggest that this badly needed review should, instead, be bottom-to-top.

In my view, this remains a federal republic, in which governmental-first response always begins at the local level, then goes to the state level and finally the federal government. Hence, a comprehensive review of response capability should progress in the same succession.

Second, any review of federal capabilities that entails proposed adjustments of priorities must also include what kinds of trade-offs are needed to increase capabilities in the areas where weaknesses are found.

I saw nothing in your editorial to indicate your concern for overall economic balance. I trust the White House review will not ignore this aspect.


Horse Shoe, N.C.

Turkey and Cyprus

Mr. Andreas Koumi, secretary of London’s Cypriot Academy, doesn’t get it (“Turkey, Cyprus and the EU,” Letters, Thursday). Turks and Greeks lived side by side for centuries under the Ottoman Empire and then under the British until 1960, when the Republic of Cyprus was established. In 1963, the Greeks vetoed parts of the Cypriot constitution, exposing the Turks to ethnic cleansing. Turkey eventually intervened in 1974 to protect the Turkish Cypriot community. The Greeks have always been safe under the Turks, but not vice versa. This space is far too limited to mention the one-sided atrocities the Greeks unleashed on the Turks.

Looking at a failed experiment from a three-year perspective, and denying that the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus — a sovereign, democratic, nation — exists is defying reality. The persistently stubborn strategy of the Greek Cypriot community will ensure the survival and universal recognition of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Mr. Koumi and his colleagues would better spend their energies in a positive way rather than attempt to yoke the Turkish community into a subservient position. Ironically, the EU environment will eliminate borders, so why are the Greek Cypriots so adamant about controlling the entire island? Perhaps they have ulterior motives.

My Turkish relatives fled their villages in 1963-64 when the Greeks implemented an islandwide assault on the Turks. Before people such as Mr. Koumi criticize the Turks, they should study this critical period of Cypriot history. They should appreciate that historically, dating back centuries, the Greeks have always lived safely, maintaining their ethnic and religious identity, under Turkish rule. The presence of Turkey guarantees peace on the island.



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